Are the doors and windows in your home difficult to open due to sticking? Have you noticed new or worsening cracks in plasterwork or exterior brickwork around your property? If so, you may be facing a very serious issue known as building subsidence. While subsidence can be rectified through foundation underpinning and other specialized repair services, it’s of vital importance that the issue be addressed as quickly as possible to avoid further structural damage and loss of integrity.
What Causes Building Subsidence?
The type of soil beneath your home and the level of the water table are the two primary factors which can contribute to building subsidence, which is simply the downward movement of soil supporting the foundation of your home. Everything from a leaking pipe causing excessive moisture to a lowering of the water table due to a drought can lead to building subsidence.
Preventing and Addressing Soil Subsidence
As the soil moves away from the building, wall cracks and other structural issues can begin to occur. Unfortunately, building subsidence isn’t the only cause of wall cracks and sticking doors, so it’s important to consult with a professional to determine the source of visible cracking.
Soil subsidence caused by a combination of clay soil texture and a dry spell can’t always be easily prevented, though there are steps you can take before damage starts to minimize the risk. Most cases of building and soil subsidence are caused by factors you can control, though. The presence of tree roots near the foundation of your home or commercial building are a leading cause of subsidence, with most other cases attributable to leaking pipes and drains which flood the nearby soil, washing it away from the foundation.
The best and most effective course of action, if you suspect that building subsidence may be an issue for your home or business, is to immediately consult with a professional building inspector. Unlike a builder or repair professional, who has a financial motivation to find fault, a building inspection company should not provide repairs or mitigation. This lack of financial interest in the findings of a report makes your inspector a truly neutral third party. Wall cracks are a particularly unreliable source of information, taken on their own, since most homes and structures will encounter some cracking over time. This is especially true for home extensions and new building works, as the structure will continue to settle for quite some time after work has been completed. While a builder or repair professional may be financially motivated to suggest their own foundation underpinning services, it’s important for property owners to remember that only twenty to thirty percent of homes affected by subsidence will require such extensive repair measures. For this reason, it’s always wise to secure a professional opinion from an expert who has no potential for financial gain tied to the findings of an inspection report.
If you have large trees near your home, have encountered a long dry spell or are concerned that a recently discovered drainage issue could have contributed to soil subsidence around your home, contact a professional building inspection company today to schedule a thorough evaluation. When these problems are caught and addressed early, you may be able to avoid the expensive and time-consuming repairs associated with underpinning the foundation and addressing existing structural damage.
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